Above and beyond
Very anecdotal, but a good proportion (if not the majority) of my medical school classmates graduated from gifted programs, including myself.
If nothing else, what I got out of the gifted program was loving to go above and beyond. When your peers are mostly higher-achieving students, the effects rub off on you as well. I took some courses in high school that were not gifted due to scheduling conflicts, and I remember that I was in absolute disbelief at the apathy and lack of motivation (relative to what I was used to) of my non-gifted classmates. While the gifted program may not be ideal for some children such labelled, I believe (based on many, many years of personal experience) that it worked for the vast majority of its students. Just my two cents.
In Grade 4 I went to a new school to give the gifted class a go (this was the early eighties) and it was a disaster. We had school psychologists "testing" us, and teachers with far-flung ideas of how gifted kids should be taught trying out their various social and educational theories in the classroom. The other kids in the school hated us. And six months later, when I missed my old school and friends so much that my parents finally pulled me out of the gifted class and put me back there, I was actually BEHIND them in every subject! What a joke.
I later met up with those same gifted kids in high school and some of us became good friends. But I wouldn't say they had any advantage over me academically. Smart kids will find challenges, and I was lucky to have teachers who recognized that and gave them to me. I didn't need a gifted class to make me excel in school.
The kids get her jokes
My daughter has been in a gifted program since Grade 4. She is now in Grade 9.
When she was "tested" in Grade 3, we discovered that ALL of the kids she liked to play with were also "gifted." When asked why she liked those kids more than others, she said something to the effect: "They laugh when I tell jokes. The other kids don't get it. They don't know what it means so I always have to explain."
Her "giftee" friends are fun, have a great sense of humour and are proud of their individuality. They accept each other for who and what they are ... whether it is being brilliant at math or art or music or nothing in particular. This has been the most important aspect of the "gifted" program.
It allows gifted kids to find each other more easily and develop friendships with others of similar abilities.
-jw at home
Child cut her own path
As a father of a gifted child, as well as a school teacher, my take was a lot different than most expressed here. She was identified in Grade 6 and put in the special class in grade 7. When they told me, I said "yeah right." Don't you dare do this for (to) me. I want a normal kid thanks. They assured me she was qualified and she has gone on well since currently doing and MSc. Differently from others who need the ego boost to say they have a gifted kid, our girl knows how to chop wood, drive a tractor and do trades type work around the house - useful skills that she may need some day? Nonetheless, we never pushed her. She has cut her own path. She seeks her own goals and drives herself to achieve them, at times risking her health to do so. IF you never talk to her about chemistry, she is just another girl in the crowd. Like the rest of us, she has her strengths and weaknesses, but they are hers alone, and her gift is developing her own potential in her own way.
Addicted to straight As
As a "gifted" student at a "gifted" school, I grew addicted to the highs of straight As, achievement awards and scholarships. In the world of paid employment, nobody looked at my marks or my labels; being gifted was no help in playing office politics, uniting business silos or juggling billable hours with caring for my kids.